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#30. Stephon Marbury

Best Season as a Knick: 2004-05, 82 GS, 40.0 MPG, 19.5 PPG, .462/.354/.834 Shooting, 7.3 APG, 21.9 PER

I remember where I was when the Knicks acquired Stephon Marbury.  My parents and I were in a cab on our way home from LaGuardia, and I managed to overhear the terms of the deal on the radio.  WFAN led the story, of course, with “The Knicks have acquired Stephon Marbury!” which about sent me into hysterics.  Then they ticked off what we’d given up.  The list kept going…and going…and going.

What’s funny about that trade today is that, other than Antonio McDyess’ unlikely career resurgence, none of the players the Knicks traded would go on to become reliable starters in the league.  (And even McDyess took so long to come back from the dead that you’d have to figure the Knicks would’ve rightly given up on him one way or another.)  Incredibly, the trade was only officially completed last summer when Utah selected Gordon Hayward with what was originally a Knicks first-rounder – Hayward is the last chance to make the Knicks really regret the deal!

And yet we all know what a catastrophic failure it was.  Not so much for the talent going the other way, but for the underlying organizational philosophy it exposed to the world.  If the Ewing trade was the leak in the dam, this trade opened the floodgates.  I don’t need to recount the last decade for everyone; I’m sure you can think of a few transactions in the vein of these deals.

But enough negativity.  Marbury did have one excellent full season with the Knicks before things gradually went south, and provided enough of those signature moments that made you think, if only for a moment, maybe we could build something around this guy.  Unfortunately he never really matured as a point guard to push his incomparable physical skills over the top; after 13 NBA seasons with five teams, he’s now gallivanting around China eating Vaseline out of a mason jar.  Well, it was either that or grow up and become a real point guard, I suppose.

I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with Marbury’s placement on this list.  In terms of sheer importance to the history of the Knicks franchise, I suppose he did much to usher in a decade’s worth of incompetence, which wasn’t particularly glamorous but will certainly be well remembered.  If this were a list of most important players in New York history, Marbury would certainly be higher up the list.  As it is, Marbury was a star-crossed player emblematic of a star-crossed franchise, the whole of either adding up to much less than the sum of their parts.

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